Thursday, June 27, 2019

Rocket Axe Ribbon Cutting

Steve Laatsch from Rocket Wood Products in Pekin has branched out with his Rocket Axe Throwing coming to a venue near you.  The Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce recently congratulated Steve at his newest location - The Library at McMahon’s Pints & Plates in Washington.  Learn more about Rocket Axe Throwing at:  You can also see more pictures from the ribbon cutting at:

Illinois American Water Diversity Lead Rhonda Carter Adams Recognized for Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Rhonda Carter Adams, Illinois American Water’s Diversity Lead, was recognized
by Who’s Who Diversity in Color (WWDIC) in the Most Intriguing People category. WWDIC is an annual publication that documents and celebrates the achievements of all people of color in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.

Along with recognition at an awards ceremony in St. Louis, Mo., on June 13, an article about Adams is featured in the 2019 WWDIC magazine, alongside other nominees, detailing the path that led her to a career in supplier diversity. Prior to joining Illinois American Water in 2018, Adams was a supplier diversity manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and executive director for the Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council. Her career in supplier diversity began at Caterpillar, Inc., where she started as a computer programmer and systems analyst. Networking and a cross-training program opened up the opportunity for her to have a role in their supplier diversity program.

Adams said, “I just knew, that’s what I am here for; that’s the direction I would like to go because naturally I had the passion for developing my own community.”

Adams’ enthusiasm for inclusion and diversity is further nurtured in her role at American Water. “Without inclusion, we cannot have innovation, a culture of acceptance or be able to truly obtain a diverse body of talent that will carry the organization forward,” she said. “Seeing diverse board members at American Water, who have a key influence and stake in the direction of the company, actively engaging in relationships with labor unions, community organizations and legislators is admirable to me. It speaks to our customer-obsessed culture.”

Adams serves on the board of the Tennessee Williams Festival, the Center of Creative Arts, Ignite Theater Company and the Illinois Division of United Way.

About Illinois American Water - Illinois American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 1.3 million people. American Water also operates a customer service center in Alton and a quality control and research laboratory in Belleville. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,100 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to more than 14 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives
flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

First Pekin Savings Bank

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Illinois Central College Names Rocco Cappello as New Vice President of Student Success

               Illinois Central College has named Rocco Cappello, of Albany, Ga., as the new vice president of student success.  Cappello began his new position at the College on June 19.  The ICC Board of Trustees approved his appointment at their June meeting.

Cappello will oversee the student services, student development, student success, enrollment services, and athletics.

Cappello joins ICC after serving as Assistant Vice President of Students, Interim Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Darton State College in Albany, Ga.  He’s also served in the roles of Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, N.Y., and Residence Hall Director at Binghamton University in Vestal, N.Y.

               Cappello will complete his doctoral degree in organizational leadership later this summer.  He also holds a master’s degree in educational studies from Manhattanville College and a bachelor’s degree in music from C.W. Post, Long Island University in Brookville, N.Y.  His notable achievements include an enhanced student achievement program, which increased the retention rate of at-risk students from 26% to 57% over one year.  He has also restructured the student conduct policies and procedures for all 23 city University of New York higher education institutions.  Cappello also is experienced in enrollment management reorganization, as he has restructured the student recruitment and enrollment process.

               “We are so pleased to have Mr. Cappello join ICC in this role,” ICC President Dr. Sheila Quirk-Bailey said. “He brings an impressive range of experience and a lifelong dedication to student success.”
            I am honored and excited to be the new vice president of student success at Illinois Central College.  The team at ICC is known for their drive and ambition when assisting students, and I am grateful to be part of an amazing group of dedicated professionals,” said Cappello.  “With the support of ICC’s passionate faculty, staff and students, I know we will continue to change the world.”
For more information, visit


Goodwill of Central Illinois has received a $2,000 grant from Ameren for GoodGuides, Goodwill’s youth mentoring program.
GoodGuides is the only nationally accredited mentoring program in Central Illinois for youth ages 12-17. The goal of the program is to pair youth with a positive role model who can provide support and guidance, while also being someone who they can just talk to.
The grant money is earmarked for multiple field trips and activities throughout the year. They include medical career exploration, a STEM technology day, a cooking class and a positive image fashion show.
“Grants like this augment the revenue generated by the sale of donated goods,” said Don Johnson, Goodwill’s president and CEO. “It allows us to expand our free services and provide even more to our community. The support of organizations, like Ameren, is greatly appreciated.”
Goodwill’s free programs are possible through the sale of your donated items. Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois serves 21 counties within Central Illinois. Goodwill offers employment services, veterans’ support services, operates a veterans’ home and employs more than 300 people. For more information visit Goodwill’s website at

Monday, June 24, 2019


Illinois Central College Athletics Names New Head Volleyball Coach

                Illinois Central College Athletics has named Tracy Heffren, of Eureka, Ill., as the new head volleyball coach.  Heffren begins her new position at the College on July 1. 

Heffren comes to ICC from Eureka High School where she was the head volleyball coach since 2004.  During her time leading the Hornets, she achieved a varsity overall record of 217-120 and was named the 2016 Tri-County Sports Female Coach of the Year.  In Class 2A, she accumulated a state championship, two Elite Eight appearances, three consecutive Heart of Illinois regular season undefeated champion titles, and a Heart of Illinois tournament championship.   

Heffren began her coaching career as ICC’s assistant coach for retiring Athletics Director and long-time Head Volleyball Coach Sue Sinclair.  “Her roots run really deep here at Illinois Central College Athletics,” said Sinclair.  “Not only is she a former ICC athlete and coach, her other family members have played here.  She played with her sister in volleyball, while her other sister played basketball at ICC.  Two of her nieces played volleyball for me, and next year’s team will include her daughter and niece.  It’s a family affair.”

Heffren has a decorated career as an athlete.  As a former ICC Cougar, she earned First Team NJCAA All-American.  At Illinois State University, she received second team all-conference nods and earned spots on all-tournament teams.  Heffren went on to play USA Volleyball and was named an All-American at a national tournament.  “I am very excited to get back to ICC after being a former player and coach,” said Heffren.  “I’m excited to continue on with the outstanding tradition Sue has already started here.”
I’m extremely excited to see Tracy get a chance to continue the tradition here at ICC,” said Sinclair.  “She obviously did a great job at Eureka High School, and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes here at her alma mater.”
For more information, visit 

Voices of Recovery

If you missed last night's episode of Extension 720 with Justin Kaufmann, you can listen to the episode  here.  Our alumni shared their inspirational recovery stories while our experts discussed the new  trends they are noticing in the field of addiction treatment. 

About Gateway Foundation
Since 1968 our goal has been straightforward: to help clients get their life back on track and achieve a life of sobriety, free from drug use and symptoms of mental illness, that is productive, socially responsible and healthy. Gateway Foundation is the largest nonprofit treatment provider in the country that specializes in the treatment of substance use disorders, providing treatment for men, women, adolescents and clients diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders.

Gateway's professional clinicians help thousands of individuals successfully complete treatment by developing a personalized plan that treats the underlying causes of substance abuse—not just addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Illinois Central College Hosts Wetland Construction Open House and Field Day July 23-26

Illinois Central College will host a week of events aimed at showcasing the installation of a constructed wetland on the College’s Demonstration Farm, located on its East Peoria Campus. Admission to the events is free and open to the public. Farmers, land owners, agribusiness professionals and students, conservationists, and the public are encouraged to attend. 
A Wetland Construction Open House will run Tuesday, July 23 through Friday, July 26 from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. each day on the ICC East Peoria Campus. The public is invited to visit the construction site to see first-hand the different components of a constructed wetland as it is being built and to ask questions of the staff.
A Nutrient Loss Reduction Field Day event also is scheduled for Thursday, July 25 from 9 a.m. to noon on the ICC East Peoria Campus. Participants can attend a guided tour on the construction site, with interactive stations along the way. Experts also will be available to discuss agriculture, conservation, and pollinator initiatives. Lunch will be provided free of charge during this event.
The ICC Demonstration Farm has expanded to include hands-on demonstration of a range of sustainable agriculture practices.  The constructed wetland will capture the drainage coming off the farm’s fields and naturally remove excess nutrients. ICC and the Illinois Corn Growers Association will be monitoring the practices’ effectiveness.
            “We have the great ability with the Demonstration Farm to expose students to hands-on research on how these different practices tie to the environment, as well as how they affect agriculture,” said Pete Fandel, ICC Professor of Agriculture and Demonstration Farm project leader.  “Everyone benefits from a project like this in my mind—students, farmers, and the community at large.”
            The open house is sponsored by ICC, the Wetlands Initiative, the Illinois Land Improvement Contractors Association, and the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership, in collaboration with other partners.       
Registration for Field Day is available at  For more information regarding this event or the wetland construction, visit       

June Biz Barometer

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

ESGR Briefing with the Boss and CH-47 Orientation Flight

Illinois Central College Hosts Ready to Work Expo July 11 and 12

               Illinois Central College will host a Ready to Work Expo for potential students to learn about educational opportunities to retool their job skills to match local careers in demand. The open house style event provides potential students and their families the opportunity to speak individually with faculty and staff from a wide range of career and technically based programs. The event will take place on Thursday, July 11 from 5-7 p.m. and Friday, July 12 from 10 a.m. to noon on the ICC East Peoria Campus. It is free and open to the public.
               “There is an increasing need for individuals with the right skills to fill jobs right here in the Peoria area,” said ICC Associate Vice President of Workforce Development Dr. Andrew Kerr. “We encourage recent high school grads, the unemployed, and anyone wanting to improve their job skills to attend the event to find out more. It’s the first step they can take toward earning a credential leading to a living wage and changing their future for the better.”
               Programs expected to participate include welding, machining, Computer Numerical Control (CNC), electrical, graphic communication, agriculture, horticulture, automotive and GM ASEP, and Diesel Powered Equipment Technology (DPET), mechanical engineering technology, to name a few. Labs and classroom spaces in some areas will be open for tours.
               Information regarding ICC Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship-Ready programs, which include solar pipeline training, highway construction careers training, GED Bridge, truck driving training, industrial maintenance, and secure software, will be available. For a full listing of programs, visit          
               Enrollment Services, Admissions Office, and Advising staff also will be on hand to answer questions regarding applying to the College and specific program admittance requirements, as well as testing information and financial aid options.
               For questions, visit or call ICC Workforce Development at (309) 690-6863.


Registration opens March 11 for the summer 2019 sessions of Illinois Central College’s popular College for Kids program. The summer program features fun and educational classes for students entering fourth through twelfth grades. Session 1 runs Monday –Thursday, June 10-21, and Session 2 runs Monday ─ Thursday, July 8-19. 
                Kids are sure to find topics to fit their interests, with classes available in leadership skills, French, chess, cooking, dance, science, art, Harry Potter, balloon artistry, computer design and coding, and much more. Several new classes are being offered this year. Some of these include: “The Price is Right!,” which teaches kids to earn, save and spend in a fun way; “Disney 101,” in which students will learn all things Disney-related; and “Python Programmers,” which explores coding with Python to create engaging apps and games.
Kids can extend their fun by participating in additional off-site Friday Fun Trips offered from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm on each Friday of College for Kids. Cost for these Friday fun sessions ranges from $75 to $95.
Two additional class options extend the day and accommodate working parents -- Early Bird Club, available Monday through Thursday from 7:15 to 8:15 am, and Club CFK, available from 3:15 to 5 pm. Both Early Bird Club and Club CFK feature games and computers. Cost for Early Bird Club is an additional $45, and Club CFK costs an additional $75.
Tuition per class varies for each class, based on instructional materials needed. Space is limited. Registration is available March 11 by phone at (309) 690-6900, or online at A complete listing of classes, descriptions and registration materials also will be available online.
                For questions, contact ICC Youth Programs Coordinator Steffi Xu at (309) 690-6916 or email     

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I-74 Lane Reductions Begin June 24

Bridges at I-474 interchange to be painted

The Illinois Department of Transportation announces that eastbound Interstate 74 at the I-474 interchange in East Peoria will be reduced to one lane beginning Monday, June 24.

The lane reductions are necessary so that crews can paint the overpasses and are expected to last until late July.

Motorists can expect delays and should allow extra time for trips through this area. To avoid the work area, when feasible, use of alternate routes should be considered. Drivers are urged to pay close attention to changed conditions and signs in the work zones, obey the posted speed limits, refrain from using mobile devices and be alert for workers and equipment.

For IDOT District 4 updates, follow us on Twitter at @IDOTDistrict4 or view area construction details on IDOT’s traveler information map on

Morton, Pekin and Peoria Chambers at Institute for Organization Management

A Leadership Training Program Produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Institute for Organization Management, the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, is pleased to announce that Morton Chamber of Commerce, Leigh Ann Brown – Executive Director & CEO and Courtney Eeten – Program Director, Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce, Bill Fleming – Executive Director and Manda Brown – Member Services Specialist, Peoria Area Chamber, Jeff Griffin – President & CEO and Audrey Kamm – CEO Council, Program Director recently attended Institute for Organization Management, a four-year nonprofit leadership training program at Midwest Institute in Madison.  Bill Fleming, IOM ACE and Jeff Griffin, IOM are Institute graduates and serve as US Chamber Regents building the positive impact of Institute for Organization Management to grow our Industry, Organizations and Communities.

“Institute graduates are recognized across the country as leaders in their industries and organizations,” said Raymond P. Towle, IOM, CAE, the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s vice president of Institute for Organization Management. “These individuals have the knowledge, skills, and dedication necessary to achieve professional and organizational success in the dynamic association and chamber industries.”

Since its commencement in 1921, the Institute program has been educating tens of thousands of association, chamber, and other nonprofit leaders on how to build stronger organizations, better serve their members and become strong business advocates. Institute’s curriculum consists of four weeklong sessions at five different university locations throughout the country. Through a combination of required courses and electives in areas such as leadership, advocacy, marketing, finance, and membership, Institute participants are able to enhance their own organizational management skills and add new fuel to their organizations, making them run more efficiently and effectively.

Institute for Organization Management is the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It is the premier nonprofit professional development program for association and chamber professionals, fostering individual growth through interactive learning and networking opportunities.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness. We educate the public on theconditions necessary for business and communities to thrive, how business positively impacts communities, and emerging issues and creative solutions that will shape the future.

Pekin Insurance® Named as One of Best Places to Work in Illinois

Pekin Insurance was recently named as one of the 2019 Best Places to Work in Illinois in the large company category.

The Best Places to Work in Illinois awards program began in 2006 and is promoted by The Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, MRA-The Management Association, the Small Business Advocacy Council, and Best Companies Group.
This statewide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize, and honor the best places of employment in Illinois, benefiting the state's economy, workforce, and businesses.
Companies from across the state entered the two-part process to determine the Best Places to Work in Illinois. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company's workplace policies, practices, and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Illinois and analyzed the
data to determine the final rankings.

Pekin Insurance has been in business since 1921 and is one of the leading insurers in the State of Illinois, providing multiple lines of insurance. Pekin Insurance offers insurance coverage in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin through its growing agency force which now totals nearly 1,800 independent agencies and over 8,000 insurance producers in the six-state area for property and casualty insurance. The company’s Life, Medicare Supplement, and Pre-Need
insurance is available in 21 states. The company is headquartered in Pekin, Illinois, with service offices at Phoenix, Arizona; O’Fallon, Rockford, and Warrenville, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa; Columbus, Ohio; and Appleton, Wisconsin.

The Center for Prevention of Abuse Welcomes Kevin Nowlan as New Chief Operating Officer

The Center for Prevention of Abuse (CFPA) is pleased to welcome Kevin Nowlan to the position of Chief Operating Officer.

Nowlan previously worked at CFPA in a variety of capacities over a 15-year period, most recently serving as Associate Executive Director. He returns as Chief Operating Officer (COO).

“We are very excited to welcome Kevin Nowlan back at the Center for Prevention of Abuse,” said Carol Merna, Chief Executive Officer at CFPA. “It’s always bittersweet when staff make the decision to retire and our agency is saddened to see Joyce DeRenzy step back from the position of Chief Operating Officer after more than 20 years of service. However, Kevin’s return is serendipitous, as he was previously in this role and is familiar with our mission, our vision, and our philosophy. It is a natural fit and we know he will be incredibly successful in position as he helps to lead our agency.”

Nowlan joined CFPA in 2002 where he served as a Prevention Educator and then was promoted to Prevention Education Coordinator. He was promoted again to Next Step Transitional Housing Supervisor, Residential Services Supervisor, Director of Residential Services, and finally, to Associate Executive Director. He then accepted a position as Continuum of Care Director at the Heart of Illinois United Way in 2016.

“I am thrilled to return to the Center for Prevention of Abuse,” said Kevin Nowlan, Chief Operating Officer at CFPA. “I look forward to familiarizing myself with all the changes the Center for Prevention of Abuse has gone through since I left in 2016 and once again, being part of the impactful mission of helping all people live free from violence and abuse. The future of the agency is bright and I am eager to see all we will accomplish together.”

For more information about the Center for Prevention of Abuse, call 309-691-0551 or visit The crisis hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-559-SAFE (7233).

Pekin Insurance® Earns Superior Rating for Claims Service

Ward Group, an Aon Hewitt company, has awarded Pekin Insurance with a Superior Rating for Personal Lines Claims Customer Experience. Ward’s Claims Customer Experience Superior Rating™ is based on achieving a minimum Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 50 across all personal auto and property claims settled and measured during 2018. The NPS is determined through a customer survey process, and it measures how likely customers are to recommend a company's products or services.
During this time period, Pekin Insurance achieved an NPS of 51.

For the past 29 years, Ward Group has analyzed key financial and customer experience aspects of the property-casualty insurance companies, identifying the top performers.

Pekin Insurance has been in business since 1921 and is one of the leading insurers in the State of Illinois, providing multiple lines of insurance. Pekin Insurance offers insurance coverage in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin through its growing agency force which now totals nearly 1,800 independent agencies and over 8,000 insurance producers in the six-state area for property and casualty insurance. The company’s Life, Medicare Supplement, and Pre-Need
insurance is available in 21 states. The company is headquartered in Pekin, Illinois, with service offices at Phoenix, Arizona; O’Fallon, Rockford, and Warrenville, Illinois; Indianapolis, Indiana; Des Moines, Iowa; Columbus, Ohio; and Appleton, Wisconsin.

Pekin Community Night - Peoria Chiefs

Come support our 3rd Annual Pekin Community Night and enjoy a night of Chiefs Baseball! You have the ability to hand pick your seats, purchase your tickets and print them from home using this link. 
Whats Going On:
  • Harry Potter Night with Harry Potter items and Jersey Auction
  • Post Game Fireworks
**Groups  looking to purchase 15 or more tickets need to call John at 309-680-4064 for bigger discounts and benefits**

SCORE: Email Marketing with Constant Contact.

Email is the most cost effective and efficient way to build and maintain customer relationships in your business. Tammy Finch, owner of Web Services Inc., will show you how to become a master of email marketing and communication along with a review of best practices and strategies. Tammy is a Constant Contact Local Expert and Constant Contact Solution Provider.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Fondulac Bank - Fondulac Room
(Clock Tower Place)
201 Clock Tower Dr.
East Peoria, IL 61611

Gateway: LGBTQ+ Substance Use Treatment Program

More than half of LGB respondents reported having faced cases of providers denying care, using harsh language, blaming the patient’s sexual orientation or gender identity as the cause of an illness.

LGBTQ+ individuals face many of the same health issues as the general population, but at much higher rates, including mental health and substance use disorders. Receiving proper care for these issues presents a set of challenges for members of the LGBTQ+ community. As adults, they face many barriers in obtaining the care they need, and may have been discouraged from seeking care because of discrimination, stigma, previous negative experiences in coming out to health care providers, fear of negative reactions from providers, or having heard about others’ bad experiences when seeking treatment.

Many health care providers are not trained to serve LGBTQ+ patients. This has a negative impact on the quality and effectiveness of care that they receive. Training healthcare providers to be sensitive and aware of the challenges that face members of the LGBTQ+ community is crucial for their care and positive outcome. 

to learn more!

About Gateway Foundation 
Since 1968 our goal has been straightforward: to help clients get their life back on track and achieve a life of sobriety, free from drug use and symptoms of mental illness, that is productive, socially responsible and healthy. Gateway Foundation is the largest nonprofit treatment provider in the country that specializes in the treatment of substance use disorders, providing treatment for men, women, adolescents and clients diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders.

Gateway's professional clinicians help thousands of individuals successfully complete treatment by developing a personalized plan that treats the underlying causes of substance abuse—not just addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Ribbon Cutting for Rocket Wood/Rocket Axe

Rocket Wood Products Inc. / Rocket Axe Throwing is having its official Grand Opening in Washington on Monday, June 24th at 4:30pm at The Library at McMahon’s. Rocket Axe brings Suburban Axe Throwing to a Venue near you. There will be free Axe Throwing Lessons for those interested in trying this up and coming Activity. Make sure you bring Closed Toed Shoes if your going to participate. Hors d’oeuvres and Refreshments provided by the Library. 

Honor America 4th of July Celebration!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Cullinan Properties "Kickstart" Helps Small Businesses in Pekin & Peoria

Cullinan Properties, Ltd. is bringing its successful Kickstart program, first launched in Quincy, IL, to its properties in the Greater Peoria Region.  The program offers new and small businesses a range of incentives and assistance to help offset the often high barrier of startup costs. The program offers a mix of rent incentives, such as limited free or discounted rents; construction financing incentives to make vacant spaces meet business needs; flexible rental terms with early-termination options; and marketing support services. Kickstart will tailor assistance packages to meet individual business needs.

The program was first launched at Quincy Mall, a Cullinan Properties development in Quincy, Illinois.  Kickstart there has helped four businesses open within the mall: Sidell’s Bakery and Diner, Spi-Rolls Ice Cream, Que Town Barbeque and the recently announced Quest Games Unlimited. In Greater Peoria the program will be available at currently vacant spaces at two Cullinan Properties developments in Peoria and Pekin:

·         Prairie Place in north Peoria near the Shoppes at Grand Prairie where only a couple of spaces remain ranging from 1,200 to 2,500 square feet

·         East Court Village in Pekin where opportunities range from 1,200 to over 30,000 square feet

A map of currently available properties can be found at, along with additional program information.  

“Cullinan Properties is proud to be able to offer this opportunity to help entrepreneurs start or expand their small business and pursue their dreams,” stated Sean Garrett, President of Acquisitions and Director of Community Relations for Cullinan Properties, Ltd. “As a developer that has successfully helped grow over 100 small businesses, we are able to offer our experience along with a variety of tools that help take a lot of the risk out of opening a new store.”

Mayor Jim Ardis of Peoria stated, “Shopping local has never been more important, and the Cullinan Properties Kickstart program is a great addition to the initiatives we have in place to support entrepreneurs. We know that citizens with great concepts and the grit and energy to start a business often run into heavy startup costs that can shelve that energy. From city incentives and loans to programs like Bradley’s Turner Center and the Minority Business Development Center, there are programs that can help.  I am excited to see Kickstart join the charge to overcome that dynamic.”

Added Mayor Mark Luft of Pekin, “East Court Village is a great part of Pekin’s retail community.  People value shopping at locally-owned and unique stores. In today’s retail climate, finding ways to support brick-and-mortar businesses is even more important. Kickstart can help us fill the vacant spaces at East Court Village while assisting our entrepreneurs start the next great business. My thanks to Cullinan Properties for this great program.”

Cullinan Properties will make other spaces available for Kickstart participants as they become available.  The program is limited to new businesses or small businesses that are expanding. While the program’s focus has been retail businesses, Kickstart can absolutely work for office or other service uses as well.  

Applying for Kickstart is easy.  Interested businesses can learn more and download a simple application at  For more information about Kickstart, please contact Kenneth Diana at or (309) 999-1700.

Friday, June 14, 2019

June Puttin' On Pekin Recap

Sixty chamber members and guests attended the June 14 Puttin' On Pekin breakfast held at the Avanti's Dome.  Hunter Wooding won the early prize, while Nikki DiDonato won the late prize. Chris Valentine accepted the Spotlight on Business Award for NRG Energy/Powerton.  Sunshine Awards were given to Nikki DiDonato & Vanessa Cox from Aerial Athletics, Christina & Justin Abatie from Two P's Pizza & Pub, and Dori West from West Dublin Pub. Pekin Area Network presented their college scholarship for business students to Hunter Wooding. Sharon Samuels Reed was the featured speaker.  The former PCHS teacher is now the choir and fine arts director at St. Paul's United Church of Christ. You can see more pictures from this event at:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Recreational Marijuana: What It Means For Employers

The Illinois General Assembly recently approved the use of recreational marijuana after reaching an agreement with Governor JB Pritzker. Illinois will become the 10th state to authorize the use of recreational cannabis when HB 1438 is signed into law. 

When will the law take effect: Illinoisans and non-residents will able to use recreational cannabis beginning on January 1, 2020. 

Who will be able to use or possess recreational cannabis: Individuals over the age of 21 years can possess or use cannabis. Illinois residents may possess no more than 30 grams of cannabis while non-resident can possess no more than 15 grams. 

Where can recreational cannabis be used: Recreational cannabis may not be used in public spaces. Local governments may authorize the use of private clubs where cannabis can be used. 

Can local governments opt out of the law: Yes. Local units of government may opt out of the law meaning that they can ban the operation of marijuana cultivators or dispensaries. Cities and counties may also issue reasonable zoning regulations such as a minimum distance from a school or church.

Can individuals grow their own cannabis: No. Recreational cannabis may not be grown in homes. Medicinal cannabis patients, who must have a medical card from a licensed physician, may be able to maintain up to 5 plants in their residence without a cultivation or craft grower license. The plants must be secure from unauthorized access. 

Can an employer maintain a zero-tolerance policy or safe and drug free workplace: Yes. Employers may adopt reasonable zero tolerance or drug free workplace policies or employment policies concerning drug testing, smoking, consumption, storage, or the use of cannabis in the workplace or while on call. 

Can an employer discipline an employee for violating its policies regarding cannabis: Yes. An employer may discipline or terminate an employee for violations of the employer’s workplace drug policy. 

How can an employer determine if an employee is impaired: An employer may consider an employee to be impaired or under the influence of cannabis if the employer has a good faith belief that an employee manifests specific, articulable symptoms while working that decrease or lessen the employer’s performance of duties and tasks. Symptoms may include speech, physical dexterity, agility, coordination, demeanor, irrational or unusual behavior, negligence or carelessness in operating machinery or equipment, disregard for the safety of others, involvement in any accident that results in serious damage to equipment or property, disruption of a production or manufacturing process, or carelessness that results in any injury to the employee or others. 

Can an employee contest an impairment finding: Yes. If an employer elects to discipline an employee on the basis of impairment by cannabis, the employer must afford the employee a reasonable opportunity to contest the basis of that determination. 

Can an employer be liable for enforcing a safe and drug free workplace: The new law shall not be construed or imply a cause of action for any person against an employer for (1) subjecting the person to reasonable drug and alcohol testing including a person’s refusal to be tested or cooperate in drug testing procedures, (2) actions including termination or discipline based on the employer’s belief that the person was impaired while at the workplace or on call, or (3) injury, loss, or liability to a third party if the employer neither knew nor had reason to know that the employee was impaired. 

What is an employer’s workplace: Workplace means the employer’s premises including any building, real property, parking area under control of the employer or area used by an employee while performing the job, or vehicles whether leased, rented, or owned. An employer may further define “workplace” in a written employment policy. 

How does this law comply with federal regulations: Nothing in the Illinois law shall be construed to interfere with any federal, state, or local restrictions on employment including, but not limited to, the U.S. Department of Transportation regulation 49 CFR 401.151(e). 

Can an employer refuse to hire a job applicant for possessing a medical cannabis card: No. Illinois law provides that an employer may not refuse to hire a job applicant or terminate an employee because they possess a medical marijuana card. 

Will an employer know if a person has been convicted of cannabis possession: Governor Pritzker plans to automatically pardon and expunge the records of all Illinois residents who have been convicted of possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis. Individuals convicted of possessing between 30 and 500 grams may apply to the Governor for a pardon and record expungement.

Source: Illinois Manufacturer's Association

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Area Recycling Open House

PDC / Area Recycling celebrated their recent expansion and investment of $3.5 million into their facility on the south edge of Pekin with an open house, tours, and a ribbon cutting.  Matt Coulter served as the emcee for the event, and he introduced his father, Royal, as well as some of PDC's vendor partners, elected officials, and Dan Pfeifer, the President of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.  Pfeifer read a proclamation outlining PDC's history and their investment in the Pekin facility.  He then proclaimed June 6, 2019 as Area Recycling Day in Pekin and encouraged residents and businesses to properly recognize the significance of the day.  You can see more pictures from this event at:

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Fletcher celebrates 20 years at Hanson

Mat Fletcher, P.E., S.E., a vice president and project manager at Hanson Professional Services Inc.’s Peoria office, recently celebrated 20 years of service with the company.
Fletcher, who joined Hanson in 1999, is involved in planning, design, bidding and construction for railroad bridge projects. He has provided services for more than 200 projects, including the reconstruction of Interstate 74 in Peoria; grade separations for BNSF Railway Co. in Galesburg; work for Union Pacific Railroad for the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency program; the BNSF intermodal facility expansion in Memphis, Tenn.; a new triple track for BNSF in Kelso, Washington; and Alaska Railroad Corp.’s northern extension, including the Tanana River bridge near Salcha, Alaska.
In 2012, he was selected as a Rising Star in Structural Engineering by Zweig Group, a management consulting and research firm. He received the Civil Engineer of the Year Award in 2014 from the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Central Illinois Section.
Fletcher received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1993 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in civil engineering in 2000 from Bradley University. He is a licensed professional engineer in multiple states, including Illinois, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and he is a licensed structural engineer in Alaska, Illinois, Oregon and Nevada. He is a member of ASCE and the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association.
Hanson is a national, employee-owned consulting firm providing engineering, planning and allied services. The Peoria office is located at 7625 N. University St., Suite 200, Peoria, IL 61614. The office may be reached by phone at (309) 691-0902.  

Tailgate N Tallboys June Passes

Use this promo code to receive 50% off your June general admission passes!!

Be A GoodGuide

Mackinaw Valley Vineyard Upcoming Events


June Vineyard News

You're Invited- Wine, Fun, Family, Friends
and DRUMS!
We are your destination for Summer Fun!

June Events

6/08 Jammsammich,  7-11pm
6/15 Bogart Jones, 7-11pm

6/16 Father's Day Open Fishing, 12-6pm
6/16 Father's Day Beer Stein Painting class* click here to register

6/21 Fundraiser-Drum Circle &Coco Loco concert for the Heller Center for Kids with Cancer, Children's Hospital Peoria, 7-11pm

6 /22 Jury's Out, 7-11pm
6/27 Brushville, Friday, 8-11pm * Fireworks & Fun
6/28 Captain Quirk, 7-11pm

We've got the Beat!

For The Heller Center at Children's Hospital of Central Illinois


June 21, 7-11pm

6:30-7pm -
Come early and learn to play drums with Teacher Natasha
she's bringing extra drums to share and play

7pm until Sunset -
Drum with us and relax , bring out your own drum or use one of ours, tambourines, hula hoops, capes and smiles welcome.

CoCo Loco Concert... Jimmy Buffet look out this band  has
Island flair to spare!  

*Drum craft making station with Nurse Shelly
*Fun costumes welcome
*Face Painting
* Chalk sidewalk art areas
* More Fun to come!

$20 for big Kids 18 and over
$5 for kids , under 18

Tickets available that night at the door

Event Held rain or Shine

These Kids  and their families aren't quitters  and  we can't quit on them.
Join us to help our local kids and families.
They need your help because "Survival is just the Start"

Thank you

CareerLink: Free Orientation to Job Opportunity Resources

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

How will recreational marijuana affect your business?

Among the many pieces of legislation passed last week by the Illinois General Assembly was a bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Once it is signed by the Governor, the bill will allow Illinois residents over the age of 21 to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis beginning January 1, 2020. Personal cannabis use will be allowed in most private residences, but not in prohibited areas including any public place or in close physical proximity to underage persons. 

The original version of the bill allowed households to grow up to five cannabis plants, but the legislation that was passed limits home cultivation to medical cannabis patients.

With nearly 7 months before the law takes affect, employers should start planning how they will manage this new law with their employees. Employers should consider updating their employee handbooks and policies now, before the law goes into effect. 

The new law allows employers to adopt or maintain their zero tolerance, drug-free workplace policies. If not already in place, employers may want to consider policies related to drug testing, and smoking, consumption, storage and use of cannabis in the workplace. 

Under the new law employers will have the right to enforce those policies in a nondiscriminatory manner.  Additionally, employers will have the right to discipline or terminate an employee for violating their workplace drug policy, subject to an appeals process. 

An employer may consider an employee to be impaired or under the influence of cannabis if the employer has a good faith belief the employee manifests specific, articulable symptoms while working that decreases or lessens the employee’s performance of duties or tasks. 

Additionally, the law prohibits discrimination against employees for use of “lawful products” like cannabis during nonworking hours.

Source:  The Municipal Minutes: post written by Julie Tappendorf, an equity partner at the Ancel Glink law firm in Chicago. She represents clients in local government, land use, social media, and litigation matters.